Published June 19, 2013
ASCOT, United Kingdom (AFP) – Jockey James Doyle had not ridden a winner at Royal Ascot until Wednesday but the 25-year-old Englishman made up for it in style with a superb treble in front of an admiring Queen Elizabeth II to boot.
Inspired by a textbook ride to win the Group One Prince Of Wales's Sakes aboard Al Kazeem, Doyle coaxed a recalcitrant Belgian Bill to victory in the Royal Hunt Cup before setting Rizeena alight in the Queen Mary Stakes.
Not since Frankie Dettori landed his magnificent seven in 1996 has the royal racecourse bowed to the talents of a youthful sorcerer in the saddle.
"It has been amazing," said Doyle.
"It is what you aspire to when you are growing up, so it makes me very happy to be standing here after a day like today. I still haven't taken it all in and I suspect it will be some time before I do. It is what you dream about."
Doyle served up his piece de resistance in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes after Paul Hanagan threatened to steal the day's feature race.
When Hanagan kicked for home on reaching the straight aboard Mukhadram, Doyle was the first to react - and the only one to overhaul Hanagan.
It took just about every yard of the Ascot straight for Doyle to reel in Hanagan, yet the jockey dismounted from Al Kazeem to proclaim: "I always felt I was going to win."
Trainer Roger Charlton was not so sure. "I thought for much of it that we weren't going to get there but James came back and told me he never had any doubts. I'm so pleased for him. He's a young guy who hasn't yet ridden too many good horses, yet he handled the occasion perfectly."
Al Kazeem gave Doyle his first European Group 1 winner when he mastered last year's double Derby winner Camelot in Ireland last month. The latter's connections were optimistic their horse might turn the tables but Al Kazeem extended his superiority as Camelot laboured home in fourth place.
It was a disappointing effort from a horse who came close to winning the coveted Briish Triple Crown last season.
Al Kazeem, for his part, is now the best older horse in Britain, with only Cirrus des Aigles - who reappears at Saint-Cloud on Sunday - rated superior in Europe.
The five-year-old Al Kazeem fractured his pelvis when making a winning seasonal debut last term but has returned to the fray with purpose. He also catapulted his trainer back into the big time.
Charlton must have thought training horses was child's play when he saddled Quest For Fame to win the Derby in his debut season. But 23 years would pass before he would unearth another of similar calibre in Al Kazeem.
If Doyle was only just out of nappies when Quest For Fame won the Derby, his parents had yet to meet when Clive Brittain saddled his first Royal Ascot winner in 1974.
Brittain, 78, may be the oldest licensed trainer in Britain but his alliance with Doyle saw the combination win the Queen Mary Stakes in some style with Rizeena.
Rizeena thus wrote the latest chapter in Britain's extraordinary career and the trainer duly celebrated his seventeenth Royal Ascot winner by performing a jig in the winner's enclosure.
Doyle had never ridden Belgian Bill before partnering him to win the Royal Hunt Cup. The five-year-old, trained by George Baker, has toyed with some stalwart jockeys in his time but Doyle cajoled the best from him in the annual cavalry-charge down Ascot's straight Mile.
"The race worked out perfectly," Doyle related afterwards. "I was able to keep him interested the whole way through, putting him in little gaps that helped him travel without having to work too hard. At one point we even got stopped a bit (in our run) but I think the horse enjoyed that too."
Doyle's treble served to halt Ireland's momentum after horses trained in that country won the first two races.
After four winners on Tuesday, Ireland's trainers are three short of beating their best-ever haul. They have three days in which to achieve that, but Wednesday belonged to Doyle.